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After 198 games for South Africa including three FIH Hockey World Cups, three Commonwealth Games and of course the 2012 Olympic Games, Sulette Damons has decided to call time on her SA Hockey career. In the most recent outing for the Women, Sulette was once again the co-captain as South Africa took on the World Cup, a role she took for the first time against Scotland in 2014.

The sight of Sulette storming down the wing was almost one of the most iconic sights in hockey. Her ability to spring the counter attack consistently meant that if she was on the pitch we were a danger even while defending. Her popularity with the supporters was also incredibly impressive and the time she took for each supporter told more about her as a person than just a player!

I asked Sulette to share how she felt on her retirement:

“I am honoured and privileged to have represented my country for the past 9 years, it was such an amazing feeling wearing the green and gold and singing the national anthem. It is a chapter in my life I will cherish forever. I have made so many friends through this wonderful sport and I call them my second family. Hockey has given me so many opportunities which I am so grateful for today. Thank you to SAHA for the support and for the many opportunities. Thank you to my family and friends for the support, I always appreciated it. I may no longer be wearing the green and gold, but I will always be part of the hockey family and community and backing my girls all the way! I wish SAHA and the team much success going forward. Keep the dream alive ladies, SISONKE!”

When I asked her current and former team mates for comments regarding her career, the response was so big that I had to cut it down to three response.

Firstly Marsha Cox, who captained Sulette for the early part of her career, shared this:

“Her speed and nose for the goal was a definite asset for the team. She had the most fun attitude and a gregarious laugh brought great joy to us off the field and her dance moves were second to none! I wish her all the best for her future endeavours which I have no doubt she will succeed at!”

Second up was Shelley Jones, her national team mate through her entire career:

“Sulla was a legend of the game. Our opponents feared her, and you knew when she touched the ball something magic could happen. She was a great team mate on and off the field! I really enjoyed her personality, she was so fun-loving and really stuck to her values fantastically!”

Lastly national goalkeeper Phumelela Mbande, who Sulla has co-captained since she established herself as SA’s number one:

“I won’t be the only one to tell you how much we will miss Sulla. Not just on the field, but off it as well. Sulla had something about her that without saying much, you just wanted to be better. She was a fantastic leader by example. Her dancing in the changeroom was legendary itself. With Sulla hockey was serious but had to be fun. I’m sad that I won’t get the opportunity of playing with her anymore, but really glad that I got the opportunity to have played with her before!”

From all the South African Hockey Association we wish you the best of luck for your future endeavours Sulla, we know you are going to enjoy whatever you do!

The second training camp for the SA Womens Hockey team gets underway today in Johannesburg. In a year where the focus will be on the FIH Hockey Series Finals and the African Qualifier, its imperative to hit the ground running for Robin van Ginkel. 

With a number of players unavailable for the first camp, this camp offers the opportunity for a bunch of players to stake their claim for places in the squads. It will be a first opportunity for the likes of Nicole la Fleur, Phumi Mbande and Quanita Bobbs to take part in a camp under the new leadership, while an exciting group of players also get their first opportunities. 


Photo - Marcel Sigg - Phumi Mbande and Quanita Bobbs back in the squad 

Amore de Wet, who has featured for the SA Indoor side on more than 20 occassions, is joined by the exciting Bianca Woods, Charne Maddocks and Stephanie Botha. Other new players at the camp include Donna Small, Kirsty Adams, Mia Barnard, Sandi Tabata and Sare Laubser. 

The came takes place at St. Stithians College and finishes next Friday the 15 February. 

South African Women’s Training Camp Squad (8-15th February 2019)

Phumi Mbande Erin Hunter Mia Barnard Sandi Tabata
Amore De Wet Izelle Verster Mishca Ellis Sare Laubser
Ashleigh Datnow Kara Botes Mmathshepo Modipane Shindre-Lee Simmons
Bianca Woods Kirsten Paton Nicole La Fleur Stephanie Baxter
Casey Jean Botha Kirsty Adams Nicole Walraven Stephanie Botha
Celia Evans Lezaan janse van Vuuren Nicolene Terblanche Sylvia van Jaarsveldt
Charne Maddocks Lezan Jakobs Nikki Veto Tarryn Glasby
Courtney du Preez Lillian Du plessis Quanita Bobbs Teagan Fourie
Donna Small Lisa Deetlefs Robyn Jonson Toni Marks

The South African outdoor hockey women are currently in camp in Johannesburg preparing for a tough year of outdoor hockey. Two big tournaments for South Africa in the current year are the FIH Open Series Final in Spain in June and the African Cup in Potchefstroom in August.

The squad gathered yesterday with some players still returning from Europe with the SPAR SA Indoor Hockey side after their successful tour. The broader national squad were invited to attend two camps, the current one taking place as well as another camp taking place in February. Of the broader squad identified, 30 players confirmed their availability for the January camp. From the 2018 World Cup squad a host of players return to the camp including Lisa Deetlefs, Candice Manuel, Erin Hunter, Kara Botes and Dirkie Chamberlain amongst others.

Celia Evans, the SA Hockey player of the year in 2016, has been called up after recovering from her cruciate ligament injury, much to the delight of South African hockey fans. Tegan Fourie and Lilian du Plessis will also join the squad when they return from the successful SPAR South Africa European Indoor Hockey tour.

There are also a host of players who have impressed at PHL and IPT over the past few seasons including Nicky Veto, Mmamoagi Kungoane and Monique Bartsch to name a few. The group of players will be looking to play their way into the team for South Africa this year.

It’s also the first chance for Robin van Ginkel to work with the ladies as the national coach since his appointment late last year. Having coached many of the ladies together within either the SA U21 side, at IPT or at various PHL sides he will know them individually well. This will be a great opportunity to identify their cohesion together.

South African Women’s Training Camp Squad (16-25th January 2019)

Mishka Ellis

Ashleigh Datnow

Jade Mayne

Lisa Deetlefs

Stephanie Baxter

Natalie Esteves

Erin Hunter

Robyn Jonson

Nicky Veto

Kara Botes

Monique Bartch

Mmamoagi Kungoane

Nicole Walraven

Courtney du Preez

Marlise van Tonder

Kirsten Paton

Hannah Pearse

Mmathshepo Modipane

Nicolene Terblanche

Izelle Verster

Lilian Du Plessis

Candice Manuel

Sylvia van Jaarsveldt

Toni Marks

Tarryn Glasby

Marizen Marais

Tegan Fourie

Dirkie Chamberlain

Casey-jean Botha

Celia Evans

The South African Hockey Association today has pleasure in announcing Robin van Ginkel as the new South African Women’s Hockey head coach. Van Ginkel will be tasked with leading South Africa through to the 2022 Hockey World Cup.

Van Ginkel has a glowing hockey CV that includes time as the Assistant Coach to the Austrian National Mens team, where they finished 7th in the EuroHockey Championship, their highest finish in history as well as winning the Hockey Series Open in Croatia earlier this year. Further to this, Robin was alongside Sheldon Rostron for both the South African Men and Women in the rare feat of the double gold at the African Cup of Nations 2017. He was also part of the coaching staff of the Delhi Waveriders in the Hockey India League for four seasons including the title winning season of 2014.

Van Ginkel has served through the structures in South African Hockey, coaching the SA U18 against Australia U18 in 2016. He has also overseen the SA U21 side in recent years including in the guise of the Namaqualand Daisies in the Premier Hockey League where he improved them from last place to a semi-final in 2017. Van Ginkel also has three IPT finals to his name including the fantastic Southern Gauteng triumph in 2015.

Away from the provincial and national roles, Robin is also currently the Director of Hockey at St. Stithians College in Johannesburg.  Van Ginkel is also an international sport scientist with an honours degree in Sport Science.

David Viney, Head of High Performance at SA Hockey

“As we did with the Men’s position earlier this year, we embarked on a robust and thorough process evaluating our candidates against the requirements of the role and through a deep interview process. Through this process Robin van Ginkel emerged as the standout candidate with a superb hockey resume, which has also featured a significant amount of time within the South African Hockey structures. Robin presented with a clear vision of the road ahead for the SA Womens Hockey team and we believed his vision aligned with those of SA Hockey perfectly. We were also pleased with Robins commitment to transformation and his plans to achieve the goals of SA Hockey. We wish Robin the best of luck for the journey ahead!”

Robin van Ginkel, head coach of the South African Women

“I am incredibly honoured that I have been given the opportunity to coach my national team. I am excited about building a team that can challenge and make South Africa proud. I am determined to develop the players in the country and it is my goal to leave SA Hockey in a better position that I am given it. Thank you for trusting me, I will do my best to make you proud”

Van Ginkel will begin his reign with a summer series in January with an eye on the Open Series Final in Madrid, an Olympic Qualifying event, in June next year as the major hurdle on the short-term horizon. The South African Hockey Association wish him a successful time as head coach.

The South African Hockey Association invites all interested coaches to apply for the position of South African Women’s Hockey Head Coach following the application process below.

Job Specifications for the Role

Basic Requirements

  • Candidate must reside, or be able to obtain residency, in South Africa
  • Candidate must be able to work within South Africa
  • Candidate must have sound references

 Minimum Requirements

  • Candidate must have a recognised Coaching Qualification endorsed by their National Hockey Federation or the FIH.
  • Relevant senior National or International Coaching Experience

 Key Competencies and Requirements

  • Candidate must have the competencies to work and conduct their duties within the context and systems of operation of the South African Hockey Association
  • Candidate must have an understanding of, and competencies to work in, the current South African Hockey context and South African Sport context ensuring transformation and access for all players into the game.
  • The candidate must be able to exhibit competency in strategic thinking and operation
  • The candidate must be able to operate independently
  • The candidate must possess people/personnel management skills
  • Candidate must have a working knowledge of financial systems and policies around international sport teams.

NOTE: Applicants are to note that this is a volunteer position

In March 2015 Sheldon Rostron was appointed head coach of the South African Women’s Hockey Team on a contract until the end of the 2018 Hockey World Cup, in line with the policies and procedures of the South African Hockey Association of appointing coaches on a world cup cycle. Following the completion of the 2018 FIH Vitality Hockey Women’s World Cup Rostron’s contract has come to an end and the process to appoint a coach for the next World Cup cycle is due to begin. Sheldon has elected not to reapply for the position going forward and thus ending his 3 and a half years as the National Head Coach.

Sheldon was first brought into the national structure as a specialist trainer and goalkeeper coach in 2010 under head coach Giles Bonnet. In this time, he also performed various roles including stand-in assistant coach and team manager. Notable events amongst others under his belt with the national team are the 2012 Olympics, the 2014 Commonwealth Games, the 2014 FIH Hockey Women’s World Cup, the 2015 African Cup for Nations, the 2017 Hockey World League Semi Finals and the 2018 Vitality Hockey World Cup.

As head coach Rostron got 57 caps, winning 22 and drawing 10 (as per the FIH TMS). The fifth placed finish at the FIH World League Semi-Final in Johannesburg that qualified South Africa for the 2018 World Cup was the outstanding performance in his time, where South Africa were desperately unlucky not to beat Germany in the Quarter-Finals. The South African coach also completed the remarkable double in 2017 when he coached the Men and Women to the African Cup of Nations titles, a double feat rarely achieved by a coach.

Sheldon will now focus on his new role within the Sports Department at North West University, while a newly appointed coach will guide South Africa to the Hockey Series Finals in a quest to qualify for the 2020 Olympic Games.   

SA Hockey CEO Marissa Langeni thanked Sheldon for his service to South African Hockey.

“The South African Hockey Association would like to thank Sheldon for his remarkable contribution to the national women’s hockey team. He has been a committed coach, engineering and implementing a dedicated program with limited resources. Sheldon’s tenacity ensured that the team always came first. We would like to wish Sheldon well for his future endeavours.”

Photo: Sean Burke

There was realistically more hope than expectation as Supergroup South Africa took on World number 3 Argentina in their final game of the FIH Vitality Hockey Women’s World Cup. The African champions had experienced a harrowing tournament so far falling short against Spain and Germany, to all but dispel pre-tournament optimism.

The match marked the 250th match for South Africa for stalwart Lisa-Marie Deetlefs. If for nothing else the team would have been committed to making this a memorable match for the defensive star. And it appeared to be exactly the case as the Supergroup South African side put out a defensive masterclass in holding off an Argentina side that looked short of the regular magic.

Phumelela Mbande will take most of the plaudits, rightfully so, as the player of the match was also undoubtedly South Africa’s most outstanding player of the World Cup. There may be questions about why she was subbed against Spain, but Mbande does her talking on the pitch and was on sensational form in not conceding from 13 penalty corners and at least ten further field goals. The biggest question going forward is how will Phumz manage here professional career and her sporting one, because she has become that important to the national team.

South Africa’s strikers had failed to get on the scoresheet throughout the tournament so far, but Jade Mayne had made a menace in the previous games through outstanding movement and positioning. That it was her that got the goal through an opportunistic move and finish was almost a sense of inevitability as South Africa took a surprising 1-0 lead into the Half-time break.

Simone Gouws, who made her debut only in the matches against Canada during the pre-World Cup camp, showed remarkable maturity and alongside the likes of Kara-Lee Botes, Erin Hunter and Deetlefs will continue to develop remarkably. Her performance during the World Cup left a feeling of optimism for the future of SA Women’s Hockey.

For all the defensive superlatives that were hurled South Africa’s way, the weight of pressure eventually did tell, and Argentina pulled level through Maria Granatto, they were not able to breach the defence again, in a display almost as effective as the mythological Trojans in defending their city.

So, the South African World Cup dream is over for another four years, the team will have a lot of questions to answer and plans to make, but the performance and result against Argentina could be the catalyst of belief that drives us to another level.

Supergroup South Africa took to the field to Lee Valley Tennis and Hockey club with only one thing on their mind. Victory against Spain was the best opportunity for Sheldon Rostron’s side to progress to the knock-out stages of the FIH Vitality Hockey Women’s World Cup.

The side had shown glimpses of their game play ability in the opening game but were unable to convert chances and lost the midfield battle. Missing Nicolene Terblanche was going to make the challenge in the midfield even more daunting for the South Africans. The co-captain had been ruled out due to the concussion she received when she took a ball to the head in the opening game.

Rostron would have wanted his team to show a dedicated start to the game, but it took just Spain’s Red Sticks a few minutes to exert their dominance. That dominance was converted into a 2-0 advantage, with Lola Riera’s unstoppable penalty corner drag-flick into the top right corner being complimented by a wonderful passing move that tore open the South Africa defence to enable Berta Bonastre to tap in.

With the prospect of needing to beat Argentina in the final group game with defeat South Africa came out with renewed vigour and pulled a goal back in the third quarter through Kara-lee Botes. However instead of sparking the African champions into action the goal seemed to inspire Spain as the European nation produced scintillating wave after wave of attack. The South Africa ladies were unable to cope with Carlota Petchame, who netted two open play strikes of differing styles but both superb in quality before Carola Salvatella made it 5-1 with a close-range finish at the end of the third quarter.

Spain continued their outstanding form throughout the fourth quarter, with their excellent penalty corner routines resulting in further goals. Riera made it 6-1 with another ferocious flick into the roof of the South African net before Bonastre joined Riera and Petchame as players with a two-goal haul from the contest with another set-piece before the end.

The result was a devastating blow for South Africa that left their World Cup dreams in tatters. Although not impossible the team now face a daunting challenge of having to beat Argentina and overturn a goal difference disadvantage as well.

Spain 7 – Lola Riera (2’ & 48’), Berta Bonastre (11’ & 55’), Carlota Petchame (37’ & 42’) & Carola Salvatella (45’)
South Africa 1 – Kara-lee Botes (35’)

Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre in London played host to the opening game of the 2018 FIH Vitality Hockey Women’s World Cup as SuperGroup South Africa took on Germany. The two teams took met at the FIH World League Semi-finals in Johannesburg last year and South Africa would have been motivated by that near miss.

But Germany were up for this game and in truth dominated from start to finish with a superb pressing display to limit the South African possession and chances. South Africa were kept in the game by a splendid display from Phumelela Mbande. The Article Clerk goalkeeper continues to get better with each game for the national side and is a joy to watch. As much as she was in form she could not stop Viktoria Huse from giving the European’s the lead.

In the second quarter the South African ladies grew into the game holding a bit more possession even rallying after Nicolene Terblanche was taken from the field for concussion testing after a fierce strike to the head. Fortunately, Nicolene has been given the all clear and confirmed this with me after the game ending.

In the third quarter South Africa would have been disappointed to concede so early in the period after a sensational Phumi Mbande shoulder save almost denied the Germans only for Charlotte Stapenhorst to finish the rebound. South Africa refused to lie down though and a combination of great saving from Mbande and superb last ditch defending particularly by Kara-lee Botes and Erin Hunter (who got stitches in the finger as a reward for her efforts). South Africa then were awarded a penalty corner which Lisa-Marie Deetlefs finished superbly.

Germany were unfazed and while the likes of Kristen Paton and Ongi Mali tried their level best, Germany continued to surge and the pressure eventually told when a review for a penalty corner was awarded a stroke. Huse stepped up to fire it home and make it 3-1, which would remain the score at the completion of the game.

Its back to the drawing board for Rostron and the team as they look to mastermind a victory over Spain on Thursday, which will keep their hopes alive in the tournament.

Day 1 Results:

Germany v South Africa 3-1
England v India 1-1
USA v IRL 1-3
Australia v Japan 3-2

 

It’s been four years since the curtains closed on the FIH Hockey Women’s World Cup in Netherlands. South Africa left that tournament with a credible 9th place finish, the best since the 7th place finish in 1998. That team featured a host of experienced players that have subsequently hung up the boots including world record scorer Pietie Coetzee, the superb Marcelle Keet, shot stopper Sanani Mangisa and the likes of Kelly Reed, Kathleen Taylor, Tarryn Bright and of course inspirational skipper Marsha Cox. It was also the last tournament for outgoing coach Gilles Bonnet.

In the four years that have followed new head coach Sheldon Rostron has done a phenomenal job of balancing the budget, the resource limitations and building a new squad ready to take on the now expanded 16 team Hockey Women’s World Cup. This will be South Africa’s sixth appearance and the new format promises a tough challenge where early defeats raise the pressure immediately.

Eight of the 18 players in the squad have played more than 100 games for the National team including Shelley Jones on 273 and Lisa-Marie Deetlefs on 247. Alongside England-based striker Dirkie Chamberlain and the co-captains Sulette Damons and Nicolene Terblanche, this experienced core will be integral to South Africa’s chances of progressing to the knock-out stages in a challenging group.

Here is the FIH look at Group C (Source - http://fih.ch/events/world-cup/world-cup-2018/hockey-world-cup-london-2018-w/news/latest-news/a-peek-at-the-pools/)

Rebuilt and bristling with ambition, Argentina (WR:3) arrive in London with high hopes of a medal. Standing in their way in this pool are three teams that all have the players to provide an upset. Adrian Lock’s Spain (WR:11) have a talented and experienced team that is awash with speedy, aggressive players. Leading the team is Georgina Oliva, who has nearly 200 appearances and is Spain’s creative hub.

South Africa (WR:14) is a team with a point to prove, having missed the 2016 Olympics due to a lack of support from its own National Olympic Committee. The team will be determined to establish themselves back at the top table at a major international and all the more dangerous for that ambition.

And Germany (WR:6) will always be a threat. The team has been on the up recently, with a bronze medal at the Rio 2016 Olympics and a glorious gold medal at the Indoor World Cup. Long-serving captain Janne Müller-Wieland and her team would love to be crowned double World Cup champions and they have the balance and experience in their squad to make that happen.

South Africa secured their spot at the World Cup with a fifth-place finish at the FIH World League Semi-Finals, only just falling short in a cracking quarter final with Germany that would have seen them qualify for the World League Finals! They further cemented their status as Africa’s best when they romped to the African Cup title a few months later.

Sulette Damons – co-captain of the SA Hockey side shared her thoughts with me, “We’ve been working on a lot throughout our 4 weeks build up ahead of the Vitality Hockey Women’s World Cup in London. It’s been great to have the team together again since the commonwealth games. We are excited to get started this weekend, it’s an exciting tournament for hockey as well as women in sport. It is always a privilege playing in the Green and Gold representing your country at a world stage, we are excited to test ourselves against the world's best!”

The waiting is now over and the ladies will be excited to get on the pitch. We will have all the action and reviews of the South African performance on SA Hockey throughout the tournament. In the month of Nelson Mandela’s birthday in his centenary year we wish the girls well and end with this thought from Madiba.

“Sports have the power to change the world. It has the power to inspire, the power to unite people in a way that little else does. It speaks to youth in a language they understand. Sports can create hope, where there was once only despair. It is more powerful than governments in breaking down racial barriers. It laughs in the face of all types of discrimination. Sports is the game of lovers.”

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